Thursday, May 3, 2012

Birds Welcome Here

This is a message for my local bird tribe - they read blogs too.  I've been really trying to make my back yard into a 'back garden' because I figure it sounds more enticing to you.

(Marketing, you know.)

Doesn't the little cottage seem like a place that you might want to raise a family?  I don't have cats that might be a little too interested in you.  Ok, I have dogs. But I've put little fences up, and they are very short-legged. So they aren't able to get very close.

I've also been taking extra effort with keeping the bath filled. I know your kind likes that, and you like it cleaned too. Check. Birdbath cleaned yesterday morning. 

There's a squirrel feeder too.  Um no. It's NOT a squirrel feeder, it's a bird feeder. Purportedly squirrel proof. I'm finding out that the Gang of Four Squirrels has figured out how to outwit the spring mechanism. But hopefully you all will be able to share.

Open house! Come on over!  I've even got sculptural representations of you. 

As a hint.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

You, me, and the Flea

April 28 was the Fancy Flea - the most gorgeous, shabby, grungy, chipped painty, ironworkish, extravaganza of color and texture that you could possibly imagine outside of Paris. Except this brocante of home and garden gloriana resides two times a year in the little town of Lakeland, FL. Which is where I grew up. If they had stuff like this when I was young, I might not have been in such a hurry to leave! 

See the person in the hat taking a photo in the left corner above? That's me...

There's just all manner of bric-a-brac - it's like a flea market on the tastiest concoction of steroids ever seen by womankind.  A truffle extravaganza of  old linen, time-rumpled suitcases, old glass milk jugs with garden flowers...

Dainty leaves nestled in crystal sorbet cups...

Old steel wash tubs filled with Gran's china, old table legs, and a violet or two to make it merry.

Old picture frames, imagery flown away, now resting on hot pink chairs, and stacks of leaves and ironwork.

Crystal drops, and lemondrops. And worn silk ribbons...

Dreamy, isn't it?

Looks like millefiori - actually deep, sweet, earthy scents of exotic soaps! In a wheelbarrow, of course.

BWA - birds with attitude.

I about had a conniption over these wonderful old spice jars. A conniption, I tell you! How in the HECK I didn't spend every penny I own, and then robbed the pockets of anyone walking by is beyond me. Well, except I do have standards, you know.  And I'm saving for a trip to France next summer. That might have something to do with it.

I'm already looking forward to the autumn edition of the Flea - can't come soon enough!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Artfest Charm Swap Tutorial

Hello friends! Finally got caught up on my sleep after the delicious insanity and 3 hour time difference of Artfest, and, if you participated in Annie's charm swap trade, then you saw a little tag on my charms which promised a little tutorial on how I made them.  Finally, here it is! 

Note to self: probably should have done this before I left, but as usual, I ran out of time. Oh well, nobody died of it, world didn't come to end, etc. ;-)

This does require that you know basic crochet first - if you have not learned that yet, I recommend CraftyMinx's Crochet School tutorials - she does a really excellent job of  explaining in GOBS of detail how to make the chain stitch, and the various crochet stitches, etc. etc.  So, my little tute assumes you already know how to do that.

Step one - chain on four - or however many chains you want. Depending on the size of the circle you want to make, the gauge of your yarn,etc. this may vary.

Step two - slip stitch to make a circle.  Then start double crocheting into the middle of the circle. This mystified me when I started crochet - being self taught (and didn't know about CraftyMinx yet) "So you mean you put the hook INTO the middle of the circle? and not around the sides??"


Double crochet about 18 stitches. Your mileage may vary depending on the yarn weight, etc etc. Honestly, as my yarn was variegated, I just kept going until I saw the colors match up - "Whee, my yarn I'm crocheting is lilac! The yarn I've already crocheted is lilac! That means I'm done with this one! Only 72 more to go...."

Note: I haven't actually picked up my crochet hooks SINCE I made this project...As a mixed media artist, it is my privilege to be absolutely bezerkers over sketching, or acrylic paint, or collage, or polymer clay, or freeform crochet...right up until another shiny object beckons!  Mixed media artists can do anything, but sadly, not at the same time.

Yay! You have half the 'oyster' made.  Tie off the yarn, snip snip with the scissors. Now you can practice your crochet-in-the-round skills again and made another one, just like the first.

Whew, now we have both sides of the oyster, and it's time to put them together. How? Sewing them with your yarn needle and more of the same yarn you used for the oysters. I don't know what the stitch is called - basting? Overhand? I'd call it the 'just get them where they are attached together dammit, stitch.'

Sew them together until you are about 3/4 of the way closed, then, tie off your yarn, and snip the tail ends so it all looks neat and tidy.

You now have a pouch, or 'oyster' for your Pearl of Wisdom.  That's the glass pebble with the word on it.  What I did to create these was:

  • Write some poetic words that described my experiences at Artfest and Fort Worden from my previous visits, (I really liked doing this), and typed them up on the computer.
  • Put them in a table, and made it where the bounding lines of the table weren't visible, but they all lined up nicely. This was not for aesthetic reasons, it was to conserve my vintage paper, as they aren't making it anymore...haha.
  • Tore a piece of paper from the endpapers of an old book (an atlas of crop yields in the US circa 1935) so you know, one of those books that you keep around for its collage fodder. And because I want to know where the sorghum production states were...not really.

Fed it through the printer - voila! Instant appropriate words for my project without having to spend hours rummaging through old books, or dictionaries. I'm amazed I haven't thought of this before actually. As I have an inkjet printer, I then sprayed the words with Spray On Matte Sealant. You could probably use Workable Fixatif or any of those sealer sprays for this.  Use whatever you got, but try it on a sheet first to make sure it doesn't stain your paper wierdly.  Otherwise, the ink will run when you try gluing the paper to the pebble.

Cut or tear out your scrap of paper with word on it, and then use gel medium on top of the word to stick it to the back side of the pebble. (No need to reverse the direction of the word or anything like that.)  When dry, I then sealed it with another coat of gel medium. I used Claudine Hellmuth's Studio Multi-Medium in matte finish, but any kind will work I'm sure.

Annie is running an Artfest commemorative charm swap next year too - already cogitating on what I'm going to make for that!  Artfest...sigh....I love you. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Just returned from Artfest!

Hi friends :-) I just got back from Seattle last night (oh very late...) so I will be posting on here this weekend with the tutorial on how I made my Artfest charm swap items as promised.  Just wanted you to know :-) and I have some beautiful photos to share with you too.  What a glorious art adventure it was!

Friday, March 23, 2012

How very curious

I'm attempting to navigate the newest incarnation of Blogspot's uhh..interface? Is that the right word? Anyway, I  noticed that it gives me statistics on how many people look at my blog (more than I'd think) and from where they are doing their looking. (The US mostly, followed by Canada which makes sense to me, and then followed by India, and Australia.) 

Blog visitors from India and from Australia somehow came as more of a surprise. 

 I hope my blog readers in India are looking at their laptops from a gloriously colorful temple with lush flowers, and placid fishponds, and not bored IT folks sitting in a cube somewhere in Delhi.  I imagine wherever you are, readers in India, that it might look like this.

Kenny the Dog, however, advises me differently. He's pretty sure that squirrels are my biggest readers.

He says in between admiring the spectacular acorn hat action, my readers probably are more like this.  He's very attuned to the squirrel tribe.   

(photo credit unknown, but not me.  I salute you Buddhist squirrel lover, whoever you are.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Blogging Logjam

On the very edge of my rather large feet (I couldn't say "tiptoe" because really, how old AM i?
In which I very carefully, very slowly..

Return to my blogging activities....
 The problem with blogging, like exercise, is that when you stop doing it (I'll just take a break for a week, or maybe 10 days...) is that you start to get all log jammed.  There's so many things to say, that you just don't even know where to start back up again.  So then weeks turn into months.  Many months.  It sort of becomes embarrassing when friends from the blog world stop by.  And of course they are far too polite to say, "So what have you done since last, uh, October?" but one wonders if they think it.

So I've been thinking about the qualities of the blogs that I really love.  The ones that whenever they update (and well, they do update a lot) that I really look forward to reading. What do they have in common?

They're short, usually.
They have a sense of humor. Not Captain Comedy humor, but I feel good when I visit.
They focus on small things - not big elaborate art trips, or fancy classes, or showing off this and that. Because even if you don't want to show off, sometimes when you only blog about the big things, maybe it comes out that way.  I don't want to be 'that blogger.'

So, I'm going to try it that way for a bit.  See if I can update more often. See if I can just show you the little things that quite thrill me.  Like my new succulents.  See them above?  I've always wanted to grow them, ever since I was a kid and loved my Welsh grandmother's rock garden where I'd hide out under the bushes and pet the plants.  So far they seem to be doing ok.  I've added some choice crystals to their bowl, because they might just help the plants feel more positive vibes.  I want them to be happy plants.